Antibacterial activity and/or zone of inhibition produced by zinc oxide nanoparticles against gram-positive and gram-negative bacterial strains namely a Escherichia coli, b Staphylococcus aureus, c Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and d Bacillus subtilis

Zinc oxide is an essential ingredient of many enzymes, sun screens, and ointments for pain and itch relief. Its microcrystals are very efficient light absorbers in the UVA and UVB region of spectra due to wide bandgap. Impact of zinc oxide on biological functions depends on its morphology, particle size, exposure time, concentration, pH, and biocompatibility. They are more effective against microorganisms such as Bacillus subtilis, Bacillus megaterium, Staphylococcus aureus, Sarcina lutea, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Klebsiella pneumonia, Pseudomonas vulgaris, Candida albicans, and Aspergillus niger. Mechanism of action has been ascribed to the activation of zinc oxide nanoparticles by light, which penetrate the bacterial cell wall via diffusion. It has been confirmed from SEM and TEM images of the bacterial cells that zinc oxide nanoparticles disintegrate the cell membrane and accumulate in the cytoplasm where they interact with biomolecules causing cell apoptosis leading to cell death.